V is For Voting (Kate Farrell)

Hello, friends! Our book today is V is For Voting, written by Kate Farrell and illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald, a phenomenal, alphabetical look at the importance of voting.

With empowering rhyming text, bookworms are given the A to Z of responsibility and engagement in a democratic society. The reader follows the central character, a brown-skinned and afro-puffed girl bedecked in red, white, and blue, as she and her fellow citizens learn, investigate, protest, educate, and act.

Powerful and inspiring. While the central conceit is an alphabet book – and indeed, it performs this function admirably – the raw energy in both the art and text of this title is intended to inform and empower. And remarkably, this picture book of complex issues manages to distill them to their essence in a way that can speak to even the smallest of bookworms; it’s a communication so simple yet effective that it astounds. Bold, full-color art presents a marvelously diverse cast and depicts a wealth of political, governmental, and civil rights luminaries. Shirley Chisholm, Cesar Chavez, Harvey Milk – to name but a few – are lovingly represented and introduced in the backmatter, along with facts about suffrage and voting; icons RBG and AOC are visually alluded to. Diversity is openly celebrated in rainbow flags, transgender symbols, and Black Lives Matter icons. Teachers, free press, and social activism are lauded. A subtle visual showing a garden being planted in hope, then later shown having its lone surviving flower determinedly being tended to by the girl (“W is working for change, win or lose”) brought tears to my eyes. The length is perfect, JJ loved the art and spirit of the text. This book is simply beautiful, and should be in every classroom, to show young readers from the very first that they have the power and responsibility to themselves and their fellow Americans to act, to change, to think, and to vote. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The President of the Jungle (André Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo & Pedro Markun)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The President of the Jungle, written and illustrated by André Rodrigues, Larissa Ribeiro, Paula Desgualdo, and Pedro Markun, a clever look at the process of democratic elections.

This time, the king of the jungle has gone too far! Lion, deciding he wanted a swimming pool in his front yard, has diverted the river to fill it. His subjects are outraged at his dismissal of their concerns, and begin to wonder: should Lion even BE king of the jungle anymore? Deciding that a new leader is needed, the animals take Owl’s suggestion of holding democratic elections to choose the new president; Snake, Sloth, Monkey, and Lion throw their paws in the ring as candidates. After a period of campaigning, debating, and rallying support, Election Day is here – but who will come out on top?

Wildly informative fun. This Brazilian import (translated by Lyn Miller-Lachmann) manages to do the near-impossible, laying out the framework of modern democratic elections in a way that is accessible and even entertaining for young readers. Complex concepts are simplified without losing the core of their significance to the process; topics covered range from the voting process to debating (“And sometimes they just argued”) to even a candidate being disqualified for vote buying, all in a way that is understandable yet never patronizing. Adding in vibrant, dynamic illustrations, it makes for an engagingly educational read. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved the animals and their antics. As the long slog of election season drags on here in the States, this would be a great story to help kids understand the process. Highly recommended, and Baby Bookworm approved!